What Does it Mean to Get In Shape?

Alert readers who visit other, better blogs like MizFit or The Great Fitness Experiment may have already become suspicious... is this a real post, or just a pathetic plea for votes in Shape's Best Fitness Blogger Poll?

Well, it is a post about what it means to be "In Shape!"  Sort of.  It's really more of a question than anything else--And I hope some of you will answer it for me.  But, um, yeah--there may also be a mention of the poll thingy at the end.

But first...

What does Being "In Shape" Mean to You?

Pondering this deep philosophical question for a few moments led me to realize it was lunchtime and that there was leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge! that there are so many kinds of being in shape! And that everyone probably has a different definition.

It also caused me to reflect a bit on how seldom I ever examine and challenge my own ideas of what it means to be in good shape. Some of these notions: useful! Others: totally lame-brained and counterproductive!

So I thought I'd investigate by rooting around in the dark dank mysterious confines of my subconscious mind (Eeek, spiders! And hey, Miss Nancy from Romper Room, what the heck are you doing in there?). And then, while I was visiting, I thought I'd linger for a moment and have a conversation. Because perhaps people don't think I'm quite weird enough.

Crabby:  Hey unconscious, so what do you think are the most important aspects of being in good shape?

Unconscious:  You should be strong, and be able to do cardio at a good pace, have a fair amount of endurance, and good flexibility and balance.

Crabby: Well that sounds reasonable!  And when you cardio should be done at a good pace, you mean that when I get on the elliptical...

Unconscious: Elliptical? Who are you kidding? That doesn't count.  You have to run to be in good shape.  And you have to go at least five miles five times a week, and you should do those miles in under eight minutes.

Crabby:  What!? I never got that fast even when I was young and healthy! And what about my foot and knee injuries that are aggravated by running? What about getting older?  Wouldn't the elliptical or biking or swimming make more sense and be more gentle on my....

Unconscious:  Silence!  It's gotta be running and it's got to be fast or you're wasting your time because you'll never be in shape.  That's what you believed 30 years ago, so it must be true, right? 

Crabby: Seriously?  Hmm... could that be why I keep reinjuring myself over and over by trying to run?

Unconscious:  And hey, shouldn't you be outside right now training for a marathon, like the people who are really in shape are doing? That's what endurance means--you should be able to run 26 miles at a time.

Crabby:  Sheesh you're strict!  So, um, to be "strong," what does that mean?

UnconsciousUnassisted pull-ups.

Crabby:  That's it?

Unconscious:  Well, there are some other things you should do too, but you can go through the motions on most of those. It's how many pull-ups you can do that count.  Remember when you were little and spent hours on the playground and weighed 60 pounds? You could do a ton of them back then, so you should be able to do a bunch now too.

Crabby:  But wait... it made no sense, but I obsessed for years about that, and now I can do an unassisted pull up or two! Or, on a good day, up to 4 chin-ups. Aren't you proud?

Unconscious:  Yeah, good for you.  Now you have to do eight pull-ups.

Crabby:  Wait, how can that be? I'm getting older, not younger and...

Unconscious: Eight.  A full set. You could do at least that many when you were little.

Crabby:  Damn.  What about flexibility and balance?   And, oh dear... how about mental health? Yikes!  I'm kinda superficial and unevolved and sometimes I get stressed about stuff that should be no big deal and...

Unconscious: Eh whatever. As long as you can make your way across a room without falling over, and can touch your toes, you're good on flexibility and balance.  I may say those are important... but notice how often I let you slide? Obviously I don't care very much.  And mental health?  Ha! As long as you're not babbling incoherently and running around whacking people with hatchets, we're good.  My priorities for being "In Shape" are pretty simple.

Crabby:  Wow, Unconscious, I had no idea you were so illogical! So judgmental! So counterproductive!

Unconscious:  Logic? Judgement? Productivity? What do those words mean?  I don't recognize them.  That's your department, Crabby.  I just deal in emotions, random associations, wishful thinking, bad memories, stuff like that.  You're not running around doing everything I tell you without thinking about it, are you? And surely you're not ignoring really important things just because they're not the random ones I decide to guilt-trip you about?

Crabby:  Um...  er... say, I think I hear the phone ringing.  Bye, unconscious!

So what do you guys believe it means to be "in shape?"

Any of you have some good working definitions of "in good shape?" Or some crazy unconscious ones? Would love to hear what pops into your head, and if you consider that you are actually "in shape."

Oh, and on that Shape voting thing:

First off, how can I not urge you to vote for the awesomeness that is MizFit or The Great Fitness Experiment or the Fit Bottom Girls or Workout Mommy or many of the other great blogs on the list?  Sigh.  They're way more inspirational than Cranky Fitness.  It's only my irrational unconscious that gives a sh#t about landing at or near the bottom, and we know how reliable that source of motivation is.

It's rumored you can actually vote once a day until October 28th, which is frankly pretty darn annoying.  Right...  we bloggers should urge readers to quit your day jobs to vote over and over in a  blogging poll?   However, if true, it does mean you could vote for Cranky Fitness, and then vote for your other favorite blogs too. 

But the best thing about this poll? It's reminding me yet again how awesome Cranky Fitness readers are! Moonlight Dancer at Dancing in the Moonlight wrote a nice post helping me out, and those of you following Cranky Fitness on Facebook have been very sweet about checking in and voting and saying hi. Love you guys!

So, any thoughts about what it means to be "in shape?"  Or feelings about be hounded to vote in online polls?

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